The world of burlesque is expanding as society perceives it in the proper light… as an ancient art form. Dita Von Teese is just short of a household name and, as we reported, Ivan Kane is about to open up Royal Jelly at the newish Revel in Atlantic City. Angie Pontani is a superstar in this wild world. She made a believer out of me one night and then another at Corio on West Broadway. It was Murray Hill (about to tour with Dita) MC-ing, Melody Sweets (now a star with her own billboard) celebrating her show Absinthe at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and a bevy of beauties that changed my perception of the game. Calamity Chang sells out every Friday at Hotel Chantelle after her sexy time performance with DeeDee Luxe and Michael Fassbender in Shame. Duane Park delivers the goods every Friday and Saturday nights. Burlesque is back and Angie Pontani is offering us The Naked Truth.
If there can be an entire restaurant dedicated to grilled cheese, then certainly a temple to one of the world’s most hallowed tipples seems more than reasonable, especially in Las Vegas. And the Cognac Lounge comes by way of equally hallowed culinary god Guy Savoy, whose restaurant in Vegas’ Caesars Palace has already earned two Michelin stars. Bottles are not "stocked" here–they’re "acquired." And several are exclusive to the restaurant and lounge, including the 140-years-aged Perfection by Hardy, a special Hennessy Ellipse, and the 1990-bottled Hine Talent, fittingly housed in hand-etched Baccarat crystal.
The strikingly contemporary room (no Chesterfields or Churchill portraits here, chaps), sets sumptuous brown leathers against a wall of architecturally assembled bottles, with a sleek modern fireplace–which does seem a bit superfluous in the desert–as a backdrop to it all. The Cognac Lounge decisively advances the rise of the legendary Vegas hotel as a formidable epicurean destination unto itself, with Nobu, Rao’s, and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill already joining Guy Savoy in its dining corridors.
It only makes sense that Gordon Ramsay should continue to expand his empire into the only city that can match his unapologetic brazenness. Now appropriately staking ground at Caesars Palace (what is Gordon, if not the Julius Caesar of the kitchen?), his buzzing and bustling new GR Pub & Grill continues his recent more populist bent.
Former Ramsay acolyte Jeremy Berlin (after a stint at LA’s Church and State) returns to the master’s fold, helming one of Vegas’ only truly worthy English pub experiences. Cocktails have Blighty-referencing names like London Calling and Underground, whilst edibles include English Ale Onion Soup, Welsh Rarebit Ham Sandwich, and, naturally Yorkshire Ale Batter Fish & Chips. The massive wall of beer kegs beckons a lads’ night out.
[Related: BlackBook Las Vegas Guide]
There are a lot of roundups of, oh, everything this time of year, but we always look forward to the awards from the blogger community, and HotelChatter’s list has some fun, quirky nominations that get at the heart of what we love and hate about traveling.
Along with the positive, like this surprisingly expansive view from a Caesar’s Palace one-bedroom Senator’s Suite (is that actual sky?? Not just another hotel? You don’t say!), great new openings like the Public Chicago, and great amenities like a portable Wi-fi hotspot at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, they don’t shy away from the negative—a raw sewage backup in Palm Springs, bad view, bad hype, and more. They’ll be updating through tomorrow, so keep checking back.
Headliners of all stripes and styles are seizing the moment to take stages all around town, and that includes several major hotel performances. Whether they’re opening a hot new nightclub or just partying with old friends, musicians all over the city want to make it a night to remember.
At the Cosmopolitan, the legendary Stevie Wonder is kicking off 2012 at the Chelsea, while a potential heir to the piano crooner throne John Legend will be onstage at The Pearl at the Palms, followed by an afterparty at Moon. Also on piano, Bruno Mars is playing The Bank at the Bellagio, while Chris Brown’s show at Pure at Caesar’s Palace will be set to the backdrop of the Strip’s fireworks show. And throwback alert: Vanessa Williams will be taking the stage at the Riviera, performing her favorite old R&B hits.
The rockers of Guns N’ Roses are finishing off their farewell tour with a two and a half hour set at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel—singer/rapper Drake will kick off 2012 with a performance the following day. If you like your rock a little more alt, Franky Perez is playing a set at Rocks Lounge at the Red Rock Hotel; their other venues are hosting DJ BKNY at Lucky Bar, and Latin dance group Toto Zara at Onyx. Turntables more your speed? Steve Angello (the house DJ and one-third of DJ trio Swedish House Mafia will be spinning all night at XS Nightclub at Encore. And if “Party Rock” is your anthem of the year, LMFAO is coming to Haze at Aria for the midnight show.
In clubland, House of Blues at Mandalay Bay goes punk for the evening, with performances by Old Man Markley and NOFX, while producer and rapper B.o.B. takes over LAX at the Luxor. Poptart Fergie opens up the new outpost of 1OAK at the Mirage, while bandmate Will.i.am is spinning at Surrender at Encore with DJ Ammo. And for one of the biggest tickets of the night, R&B goddess Mary J. Blige opens RPM Nightclub at the Tropicana. Many VIP packages have already sold out, but the hotels are planning on making these concerts a party—even the cheap seats are sure to come along with a good time.
If you haven’t had enough (or, let’s face it, are still up the next day) dance out your hangover at Hyde, the new club opening at the Bellagio at 5pm on Jan. 1 with DJ88 spinning, snacks from Circo, and a special show by DJ Paul Oakenfold.
Sushi hotel – I’m not particularly fond of the connotations. For anyone who has ever visited a fish market in Tokyo, I think you catch my drift. It’s not a building made of sushi, but it might as well be, because after a day at the fishmonger’s place, anything that pairs construction terminology with fresh fish will forever bring you back to this guy. Eating them, yes—but who wants to sleep with the fishes? But what if it’s a Nobu hotel, you say? Well in that case, bring it.
Nobu has to be the only name in sushi able to dedicate a tower in Las Vegas to its fish. A whole tower in Caesar’s Palace will is getting transformed into the likeness of a beloved Nobu restaurant. It’s reported that 180 rooms and 16 suites in the Centurion Tower will be given the sushi treatment by Nobu’s interior designer, David Rockwell.
This comes as a surprise to New Yorkers, who were anticipating a full-service Nobu hotel to open in the Financial District at 50 Broad Street, in 2013.
And not to make New Yorkers any more jealous, but the hotel guests will also get the whole room service treatment from Nobu’s restaurant, which will be a 9,500 square feet dining space and lounge right downstairs. Other good news for sushiheads? Instead of a 2013 launch date like NYC’s supposed construction, renovations at Caesar’s will take a mere year to complete. Tell then, dream your Nobu dreams on tuna-shaped pillows.
March 1: On his 17th birthday, Justin Bieber drinks coke and blows candles. To celebrate her 24th, Ke$ha drinks candles and blows coke. March 4: Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star in the sci-fi thriller The Adjustment Bureau, a project that was long delayed due to slight changes. March 8: Despite a four-year hiatus, Avril Lavigne proves her knack for rhyming is still intact, when her fourth album, Goodbye Lullaby, is released today.
March 11: My, what big eyes she has: Amanda Seyfried gets her lupine on in director Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood. March 12: The Strokes give Las Vegas some much-needed credibility when they play The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan hotel. March 15: …So long, cred! Titanic cheeseball Celine Dion returns to Caesars Palace for a three-year stint in Sin City. March 18: Get your dancing brood together to, you know, dance and brood, when Crystal Castles play Terminal 5 in New York. March 19: “Forgotten promises,” British art star Damien Hirst’s exhibition at the Gagosian in Hong Kong, ends its run today. Or at least it promised it would. March 20: Chloë Sevigny’s five-year swim down the mainstream ends—without her giving disappointed costar Bill Paxton “The Vincent Gallo Treatment”—when HBO’s Big Love airs its final episode. March 23: Jodie Foster unveils The Beaver today, and Mel Gibson puts his hand inside it. Yeah, we said it. March 25: Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s CGI-infested, videogame-inspired epic about lollipops and fruit drinks, opens today. March 27: Kate Winslet stars in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, also known as How to Win an Emmy in Five Parts. March 28: Lady Gaga continues flogging her old album, less than two months before her new one is released, when The Monster Ball tour rolls into LA’s Staples Center—again.
When I first started writing this column, one of my primary goals was to give my readers an insider look at some of the industry’s leaders, and how they approach the business. Some of these people are relatively unknown, as they allow the successful properties and brands they’ve created and promoted do all the talking. Most appear occasionally as a bold-faced name in a newspaper or magazine. Peter Chase is a player. He’s the founder of BPC, which develops and manages creative hospitality concepts. His concepts have included: Skybar in Miami Beach, Wunderbar at the W Montreal, MGM Grand Casinos (MGM, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Borgata) in Las Vegas, Detroit, and Atlantic City, as well as Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, and the W San Diego.
When Ian Schrager needed to replace the irreplaceable Rande Gerber back in 2000, he sought out Peter to manage and develop bars at each of his hotels. He has overseen fourteen bars in nine hotels, spanning New York, London, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He has also overseen the creation of several new ones.
I spent three hours chatting with him at the Carlton on Madison and 29th the other evening. I could have stayed for eight hours. Peter knows what he’s talking about, and finds himself poised to do even greater things. He is very aware that the ancient, though wonderfully redecorated hotel finds itself between the uber-hot Ganesvoort Park Hotel and the seriously hip Ace Hotel. He’s gearing up to embrace the crowds that will be passing by his door: He understands their needs, and will entertain them. He is one of the unsung heroes of the industry, and today I am singing his song.
Ian Schrager brought you in to replace the irreplaceable Rande Gerber. How did you approach that impossible dream? Ian and Rande had a relationship going back quite some time. I respect what Rande has done, and continues to do, but I think Ian was excited to create outside of that relationship. What we accomplished at the Clift with the Redwood Room, the re-interpretation of the Morgans Bar, and the complete transformation of the Whiskey into the Paramount Bar makes that evident.
Rande and I come from very different backgrounds. Rande was a former model that got into the bar industry, and I am someone that worked within the hospitality industry, and went to Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. Beyond all of the extraordinary creative aspects of working with Ian, I approached the “impossible dream” from a business perspective. I set out to implement better systems, controls, reporting, and several initiatives to maximize profit from every drink served.
I worked for Ian and Steve Rubell, and learned a great deal. What did you take away from that experience, and how do you apply it nowadays? I know that many of the things that I discounted or infuriated me about their style/personally applied when I had such opportunities. I never got to meet Steve, but I feel like there were several talented people Ian employed to help him create his vision. I learned so much from Ian that it almost seems that I learned nothing. So much of what Ian does can’t help but resonate and change the way you look at bars, restaurants, and hotels, or for that matter, everything. Ian has a way of instilling in you his perspective on service, music, design and style. He often accomplishes this through intense demands, but as the saying goes, “you can’t make diamonds without a lot of pressure.” Eventually, you change (for the better, I might add) and forget what you thought was acceptable before. His vision is his own. Many have tried to replicate it, some with success, but there always remains just one original. I use this valuable resource every day in operating my businesses, and owe a great deal to Ian for teaching me to view things differently. Sometimes the fates bring the right person to the right place and time. The Carlton finds itself on a strip between the new Ganesvoort Park and the highly successful Ace Hotel. What are you doing to exploit this moment? Having lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, I have watched its evolution. Back in 1904, just before the NYC subway opened, the Carlton (then the Seville) Hotel opened and helped turn the neighborhood into one of the city’s most elegant locales. The original bar from the Seville is still intact, and has hosted luminaries such as Frank Sinatra and “Diamond Jim” Brady. A block away lies the remnants of Tin Pan Alley, where much of the world’s greatest music was written and produced. The Breslin Hotel, now the Ace, opened the same year as the Seville, and was part of what was known as the “Avenue of Hotels.” Today, with the renovation of both hotels, and the addition of the Gansevoort, I think that we are seeing a re-awakening of the 29th Street hotel corridor. I have always treated my competitors like neighbors. There is plenty of business for everyone, and if we support one another we all stand a better chance of succeeding. Let the Gansevoort and the Ace do what they do best, I wanted to pay homage to the history of the area, and offer a connection to its storied past through music.
Having spent countless hours in what was originally the Café at Country in the Carlton, I always knew that its center bar needed to be removed and filled with energy, be it through people, or in this case, live music. The Salon as it is now known is the entry point for all things Millesime. It acts as a portal to another time. Upstairs, we have our seafood brasserie, and across a glass bridge, Bar Millie, which will soon open. It will feature burlesque images from the turn of the century, and views looking down onto the stage. Bar Millie will be a place where you can make a reservation for a table, and come and sip cocktails with friends. A lot of places charge a cover, or pack the room to help offset the expenses of the musicians. We work with musicians, and allow them an elegant space in which to showcase their talents.
A phenomenon in the current era is the synergy and possibly the necessity of solid NYC nightlife in hotels. Tell me your take on that. How much is food and beverage driving your hotel, and will that now increase dramatically? I operate bars in W Hotels, and consult for casinos: there are few things as important to a hotel or casino as its food and beverage offering. I do not know if Ian and Steve invented it, but they certainly exploited it to the fullest. When a new hotel opens people are not going to immediately rent a room. They will pop into the bar, or grab a bite in the restaurant, and then promote the property given their experience. This puts heads in beds, and safe guards the real investment: real estate. The press will only write about a hotel when it opens, but they’ll cover any celebrity sightings as long as someone communicates with them, be it the venue itself, a cell phone picture from a customer, or a random tweet. If it is from the venue itself, this can be a double-edged sword. As a policy, we do not actively pursue press regarding our customers unless they are at a function where it is understood that their picture may be taken. Celebrities know this as well, and use certain venues to garner press when it suits their needs. Additionally, restaurants and bars are the perfect locations for movie premieres and charity events. These bring press, cameras and celebrities, which only adds to the properties cache. In the six or so months since we have been open, we have already hosted TV film shoots for Curb Your Enthusiasm, House Wives of New Jersey, an after party for the band Rammstein, listening parties for NE YO and Estelle and the several charity events including one for Artists for Peace and Justice, hosted by Paul Haggis. The word “boutique” in regards to hotels seems to be very last century. Is there a new word? Will most hotels have to go chic to remain relevant and occupied? I agree that the term sounds very outdated, but as a concept it’s still relevant. The problem started when hotel companies and designers started calling something “boutique” but only regurgitated previous design work. Boutique should represent true individuality within its local context. This only happens when passionate people are involved in every detail of development.
Unlike the Gansevoort in the Meatpacking, the Gansevoort Park was designed and pre-engineered with hospitality, food, and beverage in mind. Carlton is a much older property. What steps are you taking to retro-fit protection for your hotel guests against the sounds and such that successful watering holes inevitably bring? At the new Gansevoort Park they have added separate elevators to access the upper bars from the hotel, and seem to have situated the bars away from guest rooms. This means no more intoxicated guests on elevators with families staying at the hotel, and no more non-guests on hotel floors causing safety issues. When they built the Carlton they constructed it in such a way that sound from the bars does not disturb the hotel guests. Bars and clubs can be a tremendous asset to a hotel, but it is vital that veteran operators and professional audio engineers are involved in the design and construction phases, or you can end up with costly renovations, or lost room revenues for decades.
Tell me about Salon Millesime. The idea with the Salon was to create a sophisticated platform for progressive artistry and extraordinary musicianship. My partners and I have handpicked our talent from all ‘walks of life’ including students of the Juilliard School of Music, DJs, and well-regarded, established artists. The Salon is our doorway into the hotel. Everyone works off of their laptops or phones, and they are doing this in coffee shops more and more. People who have been laid-off, or are self-employed, are looking for a place to be able to have a meeting or get work done over a cup of coffee. During the day we offer a relaxing environment to do this and at night, sip wine and listen to our interpretation of Voix de Ville, the voice of the city. The Salon menu features casual French and Mediterranean inspired cuisine by my partner Chef Laurent Manrique. We installed a state-of-the-art Bose sound system for an unparalleled musical experience. Nightly performers include artists from far corners of the globe to nearby neighbors. N’Dea Davenport, Swizz Beatz, Nickodemus, Estelle, Grammy winning rapper Pras, Grammy winning singer Ne-Yo, and Brooklyn songstress and Si*Se have already graced the stage. When not performing live, there is a select roster of DJs like Carol C from the band Si*Se, and DJ Sir Shorty, a veteran of the city. I invite guests to gather and sip artisan cocktails like the French 75, or perhaps the Night & Day—my version of the Manhattan—a portion of whose proceeds supports VH1’s Save the Music.
We wanted to evoke an intimate music venue with hints of the history of the area’s past. The team came from Redhook Brooklyn and was lead by Doug Fanning’s DYAD Studio. Doug chose to transform the space with stylish mix of leather banquets, tiger print chairs, and glossy ebony cocktail tables with bronze inlays reminiscent of the early Café Society interiors. He also custom designed the oversize light shades reminiscent of old Vaudeville stage curtains. Designer William Calvert, a longtime friend, created a luxe cocktail dress for the servers.
How does Millesime and the other food and beverage spots in the hotel interact with each other? We chose to create one iconic name, Millesime, with multiple concepts feeding into it. Since no two guests are alike, we created an offering that appeals to each guest’s unique needs and desires, as well as those of our local community. Beyond the Salon we have the Lobby Bar, a dimly lit saloon where you can “belly up” to a magnificent mahogany bar dating back one hundred plus years to the original hotel. Order a scotch, eat a burger, catch a game on the flat screen TV, or just people watch as hotel guests arrive from near and far. Just around the corner from Millesime, across a 30-foot glass bridge, will be Bar Millie, a reservation cocktail bar. Reminiscent of an old French sitting room, it is an ideal perch for relaxing, chatting and drinking with good friends. Leather-bound chairs, metal screened burlesque images, a handcrafted marble bar, and traces of the past hang in the air like ghosts of prohibition. It’s a nostalgic portal to an era when automobiles had curves, women were dames, men wore hats, and a deal was sealed with a handshake. The room, with its vaulted ceiling and wood panels, is a place that encourages you to linger over drinks and trade glances as music wafts throughout. Seven hard shakes with a cocktail shaker and you’re transported back to the splendor of Broadway, Tin Pan Alley, and luxurious hotel lounges. It’s a trip back to the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby,, and watching William Powell coach the bartender on the proper way to shake a martini in The Thin Man.
Screw the CityCenter, this is what will save Vegas. This is what will convince millions of Americans to part with their hard-earned cash in Sin City. Celine Dion announced yesterday that she’ll return to Las Vegas for a three-year stint at Caesars Palace. Celine will return to the 4,300-seat Colosseum that was originally built for her and her previous show, A New Day. All is right with the world.
The camp classic A New Day grossed over $400 million in its five-plus years in Vegas. The new show will feature a concept involving classic romantic films (Titanic perhaps? Oh James Cameron, you master of human emotion). “The repertoire is going to be extraordinary…a mix of timeless Hollywood classics, along with all the favorites that my fans like to hear me sing,” Dion said of the new gig. “There’ll be some truly wonderful moments.” (To get an idea of some of the magical moments of her last Vegas show, check this out. A mirror shatters, a Canadian chanteuse emerges.)
The new show begins March 15, 2011. Tickets prices range from $55 to $250, and sales start Friday. No word yet if Franco Dragone, “the world’s most spectacular showmaker,” will be involved on this go-round, but there will be a full orchestra.